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  • Advancing Resilient Communities Through Science & Technology

    BuildingCodeSavesLives
    This May marks the third year that the City of Raleigh is participating in Building Safety month. Building Safety Month (BSM) is celebrated by jurisdictions worldwide during the month of May to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures. 
     
    The theme of this year’s BSM is “Building Codes Save Lives,” but what does that mean to citizens of Raleigh? Well, all communities need building codes to protect people from disasters like fires, weather-related events and structural collapse. Building codes are society's best way of protecting homes, offices, schools, manufacturing facilities, stores and entertainment venues. Code officials work day in and day out to keep the public safe.
     
    Each week of BSM has a theme, and this week’s theme is advancing resilient communities through science and technology. Research shows that planning and being prepared for extreme changes can greatly reduce the long-term impacts on a community.
     
    A city that reduces its vulnerability to dramatic change or extreme events and responds creatively to economic, social and environmental change to increase its long-term sustainability is knows as a resilient community. Creating a resilient community requires diligent planning and innovative thinking. Science and technology are leading the way for designing and constructing safe, efficient and resilient homes and buildings. Up-to-date building safety codes and standards enable technology to be incorporated into buildings while ensuring safety for lives, properties and investments.
     
    Using Technology to Improve Safety
    Resilience starts with strong, regularly updated, and properly implemented building codes. So, whether you’re considering renovating, remodeling or building from the ground up, look for the latest technology and make sure it is based on the codes and standards that put safety and efficiency first. Check out these future home technologies from energy.gov: 
     
    Smarter, Connected Homes: Electronic devices and appliances can now be linked to the Internet to provide real-time data that makes it easier to understand and lower our energy use. New wireless sensors developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will boost home energy efficiency through automated control systems for heating and cooling units, lighting, and other systems that access data such as outside air and room temperature, humidity, light level and occupancy.
    Ultra-Efficient Heat Pumps: The Building Technologies Office of the US Energy Department is ushering in the next generation of heat pump systems, which warm and cool your home by moving heat from one space to another. These include: 
    • A fuel-fired, multi-function residential heat pump that can reduce primary energy consumption by 30%.
    • A natural gas heat pump and air conditioner that uses an ultra-low-emission combustion burner and other equipment to provide home heating, cooling and hot water.
    • A low-cost gas heat pump designed to reduce heating costs by up to 45% compared to conventional gas furnaces and boilers.
     
    Carbon-Fighting Clothes Dryers: The same concept behind heat pump technologies that keep your home comfortable can also be used for another important application: drying your clothes. Oak Ridge National Laboratory and General Electric are developing a new type of clothes dryer that uses a heat pump cycle to generate hot air needed for drying. The result: a more efficient dryer that has the potential to lower energy consumption by 60% compared to conventional ones on the market today.
     
    Magnetic Refrigerators (That’s Right, Magnets!): Oak Ridge National Laboratory and General Electric have teamed up to create a revolutionary new type of refrigerator that uses magnets to create cold. For the past 100 years, refrigerators have relied on a process called vapor compression that uses coolants which can be harmful to the environment. The new refrigerator is a revolutionary technology that uses a water-based cooling fluid, making it better for the environment and more efficient, which means lower energy bills and less carbon pollution.
     
    Advanced Window Controls: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pella Windows are working on new highly insulated windows that use sensors and microprocessors to automatically adjust shading based on the amount of available sunlight and the time of day to ensure proper lighting and comfort, saving consumers energy and money.
     
    Next-Gen Insulation: Insulation is one of the most important ways to reduce your home heating and cooling costs. The Industrial Science & Technology Network is developing new foam insulation made with environmentally friendly and advanced composite materials that ensure heat doesn’t escape from the attic, walls and other areas of the home during cold winter months.
     
    Reflective Roofing Materials: Cool roofs coated with materials containing specialized pigments reflect sunlight and absorb less heat than standard roofs. Expect these types of roof systems to get even “cooler” due to new fluorescent pigments that can reflect nearly four times the amount of sunlight of standard pigments.
     
    Brighter, Better Lighting: LED lighting has come a long way, with today’s highest-performing lights consuming 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs. In fact, LED efficiency is expected to double from the current in the next few years.
     
     
    Even in Raleigh
    A new, premier, mixed-use development is being planned in the heart of Downtown Raleigh’s innovation district. A first-of-its-kind development for the Triangle region, Phase I at City Gateway will be the area’s first energy-positive building, producing all the energy it needs on site. With smart building technology, information from various building systems can be leveraged to optimize energy and operational performance. The building includes a geothermal HVAC system, high performance lighting and glass, natural daylight, superior insulated building envelope, digital energy dashboard, and solar panels.
     
    Written by Guest Blogger Jeremiah Weckesser, Senior Mechanical Inspector III in the Development Services Deparment
     
     

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